seal  Purdue News

March 26, 2004

College students score nationwide with Purdue golf program

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – College students nationwide are learning that getting their shot in business may mean taking their shot on the golf course.

Jim Ousley and
Mary Kay Weise

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Thomas Templin, professor and head of the Department of Health and Kinesiology at Purdue University, worked with the PGA of America in 1998 to create Golf: For Business & Life, which provides high-quality instruction from PGA professionals to novice golfers who may one day be playing the sport as part of business. Since the program was created, 49 schools, including Texas at Austin, Stanford, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Arizona State universities, have received $3.7 million from the PGA of America as an incentive to follow the model created at Purdue.

"Golf is not only a lifelong pastime, but also a valuable skill for the business world. This class creates an affordable opportunity for students who want to complement the professional skills on their resumés with an understanding of golf," Templin says. "The golf course sometimes becomes an outdoor office where deals are made, and networks are built.

"Students pursuing any academic degree can register for the eight-week course to learn basic skills, terms and etiquette, as well as spend time on the course so they feel comfortable playing in a business situation. Even people who don't develop much proficiency can benefit from learning an appreciation for a game that many of their colleagues enjoy. Both men and women are signing up because they know golf is a skill that can help them compete in the business world."

The golf class at Purdue has been popular since it was first offered in the 1960s, but Templin realized that a 25-to-1 student-instructor ratio meant students weren't getting the best instruction possible. Templin's solution was to use local PGA professionals to work with smaller groups in each class. He teamed with Alice Dye, a former PGA board member and wife of golf course architect and designer Pete Dye, to create such a program at Purdue in 1998. The Dyes have been major contributors to the program. Alice Dye also helped Purdue's program attract national attention by recommending it as a template for the Growth for the Game at colleges and universities set up through the PGA of America.

The PGA of America, a separate organization from the PGA Tour, is the national organization for golf professionals who support the growth of the game by encouraging new golfers and helping current golfers stay active. The PGA of America sponsors the Ryder Cup series every other year. Each PGA Tour player who plays in the Ryder Cup receives $100,000 to be donated to a charity, and another $100,000 is allocated to the players' alma maters to start or maintain a version of the Golf: For Business & Life Program. For example, Tiger Woods' donation went to Stanford University, where he attended college.

Templin has consulted with dozens of universities that are using the Purdue model.

"Our mission is to grow the game of golf by showing people that golf can be part of many people's lives as a leisure activity and a business tool," says Earnie Ellison, director of business and community relations at PGA of America.

"There are many golf programs for children and older adults to learn how to play golf, but we see a decline in the number of young adults who play. By working with so many college campuses, we expect to see more young adults playing golf in their 20s rather than waiting until they are 35.

"But equally important is the PGA professionals are directly involved through the partnership with colleges in helping students understand how golf works as a business tool and how their career could be enhanced simply because they now play golf."

More than 95 percent of the students who have completed the course nationwide say they want to continue golfing. About half of the students enrolled nationally have never played golf, and more than one-third of the students are women.

Kenneth O'Connor, a senior from Indianapolis who is majoring in accounting at Purdue, realizes the value golf will have in his financial career.

"I have always enjoyed playing golf for fun, and I know it would be beneficial to learn how to play golf in a more business atmosphere," says O'Connor, who is taking the course this semester. "Situations could arise that would include golfing with possible future clients, and I want to know more than what I have picked up on my own these past five years."

The university's program enrolls about 100 students a semester, with about 100 Purdue students on the waiting list for the class. Templin says more classes cannot be added due to the demand on Purdue's golf courses. He says the next step is to add a component specifically for MBA students that focuses more on golf as a business tool. For example, it addresses how to close a deal and what to talk about while with clients.

Alice Dye has been named the 2004 PGA First Lady of Golf. In addition to serving at the PGA's highest administrative levels, she has won national amateur championships and influenced modern golf architectural design to be more manageable for women. She also was the first woman to serve as an independent director of the PGA of America from 1999-2002.

Pete Dye was the 1995 recipient of the Donald Ross Award from the American Society of Golf Course Architects and was named Golf World magazine's Architect of the Year in 1994. In addition to his leadership with the renovation at Purdue's Birck Boilermaker Golf Complex, he also designed Crooked Stick Golf Club, his home course, in Carmel, Ind.; Harbor Town, in Hilton Head, S.C.; and the Ocean Course in Kiawah, S.C.

Purdue's Kampen Course, which is a living laboratory for turfgrass research and environmental studies, incorporates Dye's drainage and irrigation designs and wetland areas that help recycle and purify water that falls on the course.

Purdue's Department of Health and Kinesiology offers majors in health promotion and education, as well as kinesiology, including athletic training, health and fitness, movement and sports science, and physical education. More than 550 undergraduate students and 80 graduate students are enrolled in the department.

Writer: Amy Patterson-Neubert, (765) 494-9723,

Sources: Tom Templin, (765) 494-3178,

Earnie Ellison, (561) 624-7648,

Kenneth O'Connor (765) 532-5640,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Note to Journalists: Journalists interested in speaking with students or photographing a class should contact Brent Wills, assistant golf professional at the Birck complex and administrative instructor of Golf: For Business & Life, (765) 494-3216.

Jim Ousley, PGA golf professional at the Tippecanoe Country Club and instructor for Golf: For Business & Life at Purdue University, helps his student, Mary Kay Weise, a Purdue senior in actuarial science and statistics from Dyer, Ind., at the Birck Golf Complex. Golf: For Business & Life, a class in the Department of Health and Kinesiology, provides high-quality instruction from PGA professionals to Purdue students who may one day be playing the sport as part of business. Since the program was created, 49 universities, including Texas at Austin, Stanford, North Carolina, Wake Forest and Arizona State universities, have received $3.7 million from the PGA of America as an incentive to follow the model created at Purdue. (Purdue News Service photo/David Umberger)

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